Release from biogenic particles, benthic fluxes, and deep water circulation control Cr and δ53Cr distributions in the ocean interior

Janssen, David James; Rickli, Jörg; Abott, April N.; Ellwood, Michael J.; Twining, Benjamin S.; Ohnemus, Daniel C.; Nasemann, Philipp; Gilliard, Delphine; Jaccard, Samuel L. (2021). Release from biogenic particles, benthic fluxes, and deep water circulation control Cr and δ53Cr distributions in the ocean interior. Earth and planetary science letters, 574, p. 117163. Elsevier 10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117163

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Chromium (Cr) has shown promise as a paleoceanographic proxy due to the redox-driven control of dissolved Cr concentrations ([Cr]) and stable isotope composition (δ53Cr). To improve the mechanistic understanding of Cr cycling in the modern ocean and strengthen its potential proxy applications, we present new data from regeneration incubations, bottom and sediment pore waters, and a compilation of intermediate and deep water data. While Cr removal and biological export from the surface ocean is associated with organic carbon export, the deep water release of dissolved Cr from sinking particles is not directly dependent on organic carbon respiration, as indicated by differing trends between Cr, oxygen utilization and the regeneration of organic-associated macronutrients (e.g. N, P). Pore water and bottom water data demonstrate that benthic Cr fluxes are locally important and may be significant globally. The pore water dissolved Cr flux at our CaCO3-rich site is likely driven by the re-release of Cr scavenged from the water column by sinking particles, with minor contributions from lithogenic phases. We argue this is consistent with the highest open ocean [Cr] to date being found in the water column below oxygen minimum zones, likely reflecting the release of scavenged Cr in deep waters or surface sediments. Chromium released from suspended particles and surface sediments follows the global Cr–[Cr] array, supporting the proposed role of biological export and regeneration in shaping global Cr and Cr distributions. Global intermediate and deep water [Cr], Cr and Cr:macronutrient relationships are thus shaped by a synergy of circulation patterns, water mass mixing, a deep Cr regeneration cycle, and benthic Cr sources. A biogenic control on global Cr distributions indicates that sedimentary Cr records may reflect biogenic as well as O2-dependent processes, while more research is needed to assess sediment Cr record fidelity based on an active diagenetic cycle.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Janssen, David James, Jaccard, Samuel


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








David James Janssen

Date Deposited:

06 Oct 2021 10:22

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:53

Publisher DOI:





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